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Funeral directors recreate history with coffin walk

Pall bearers led by a Nottinghamshire funeral director carried an empty coffin for three miles across fields between two villages to re-enact mourners from 155 years ago.

The event, called the Brinsley Coffin Walk, took place on July 23 to recreate the traditional journey undertaken by families who lived in the village of Brinsley, near Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, but had to bury their dead in nearby Greasley.

The reason for the families’ arduous trek was that Brinsley did not have its own church, a situation which was resolved by the opening of their own place of worship, St James The Great Church, in 1861.

It was the 11th time that the walk was performed after it was introduced by Brinsley parishioner and local historian Stan Smith to demonstrate how hard life was for villagers.

For many years, walkers carried a miniature coffin but last year, for extra authenticity, funeral director Joanne Hutsby, a partner of Nottinghamshire firm Gillotts Funeral Directors, walked in front of pall-bearers carrying a full-size engraved coffin supplied by Steve Soult Ltd, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, whose staff also carried the coffin.

Both companies performed the same duties this year too, followed by a procession of around 20 people, although one key person was missing – Stan, who died earlier this year.

Joanne Hutsby said: “Last year was the first time that Gillotts had got involved in the event and although it was an unusual experience, it was wonderful to be a part of, so we were very pleased to take part again.

“It was very sad that Stan was not with us this year. He was the driving force behind the event but his widow, Christine, joined us on the walk and he was with us in spirit every step of the way.

“It was a very warm day and the walk wasn’t easy but it was good to bring history to life in that way and we certainly made an impression on the people that we passed.”


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